Owens takes charge in UT victory

Junior QB throws for 300 yards, 4 TDs as Dantin stays on sidelines.


LARAMIE, Wyo. -- The message the last three years has been driven into the ground, resuscitated, and then driven deeper.

On Saturday, Matt Campbell delivered it once more.

"We'll continue to assess," University of Toledo's coach said in reference to his unusual quarterback situation.

Somehow he maintained a straight face. Campbell has long said he will continue to play two quarterbacks unless one of them pulls ahead -- which apparently happened just two weeks into the season.

Terrance Owens played exclusively in a 34-31 win over Wyoming, throwing for 300 yards and four touchdowns, and exhibiting a little rushing prowess, in a whacky affair at War Memorial Stadium. It was a performance reminiscent of late last season, when Owens attracted followers and became the fan's choice by authoring three straight wins to close the year.

Campbell has wanted to play both quarterbacks and ride the hot hand, be it Owens' or Austin Dantin's. Owens, in consistently moving the offense, never cooled long enough for that plan to develop.

"There wasn't time to find out who was hot because T.O. executed well early on," Campbell said.

That meant the senior Dantin was rendered a spectator, the first time he's had to do that, when healthy, since his freshman season. It snapped a streak of 27 straight appearances.

"We have great faith in Austin Dantin," Campbell said.

In explaining his decision last week to play Dantin at the end of an overtime loss at Arizona, Campbell lauded his ability to slice the defense with his feet, proclaiming Dantin the better runner of the two. Owens, who agreed with that assessment, was plenty swift Saturday.

On a drive that ended with him finding James Green in the end zone, Owens got loose on the edge to convert a 4th-and-3. His stat line included 74 rushing yards, zero interceptions, and one sack. He completed passes to nine different players and touchdowns to three different players -- Green, Cassius McDowell, and twice to Bernard Reedy on 35-yard strikes.

"I'm feeling pretty good," said Owens, who was 25-of-41. "I left a lot of plays out there when we had a chance to drive the ball. We have a lot to work on, but it was a good victory."

The win, which came in spite of another leaky outing by the defense, should have the Rockets feeling energized heading into the Bowling Green game. At many turns, though, it looked like they might return home from the west for the second straight week with a stomachache.

Wyoming (0-2) cut the deficit to 34-31 with 5:34 to go when receiver Chris McNeill turned an end-around play into a three-yard TD pass to Riley Lange. Hatched by offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon, the former Bowling Green coach, the trickery seemed necessary because quarterback Brett Smith (401 total yards) was knocked out of the game three plays earlier.

"They have trick plays, and they set you up good," safety Jermaine Robinson said.

It was another poor statistical showing by the defense, which allowed 526 yards, raising the season total to 1,150. But like last week, it wasn't all bad, as Toledo caused three turnovers, got key fourth-down stops (Wyoming settled for two field goals to close the first half, one that came after reaching the 2), and relied on a little good fortune (Cowboys receiver Robert Herron, who totaled 173 yards and two touchdowns last week, did not play due to injury).

Said Robinson, who intercepted his second pass of the season, "As long as we make the stops when they count ... no matter what the score is and what the total yards is, if we have one more stop than their defense, we'll come out with a victory."

With their leader Smith on the way to the hospital with a concussion, the Cowboys failed on the final drive. Back-up Colby Kirkegaard threw two incompletions at his own 44, and the Rockets rejoiced after Robert Bell stuffed D.J. May on fourth down.

The celebration will be short-lived. Preparation for Bowling Green begins today. Thirty minutes to the south the Falcons will begin building their game plan, which might focus on one Toledo quarterback more than the other.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.